Jeff Flake - U.S. Senator ~ Arizona

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Flake, McCaskill Push Against Return of Earmarks

Amid Members of Congress ‘actively plotting to revive earmarks,' senators call on leadership to pass bipartisan legislation making earmark ban permanent

WASHINGTON – Continuing their bipartisan push to permanently ban the practice of earmarking in Congress, U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) led a bipartisan effort in calling on Senate leadership to push back on efforts to reinstate the practice and instead pass their bipartisan legislation to make permanent the temporary moratorium on congressional earmarks that has been in effect since 2010.

Flake and McCaskill were joined in their effort by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

“While the moratorium continues as a rule of the Democratic and Republican caucuses, members of both parties in both chambers of Congress are actively plotting to revive earmarks, but by some other name,” wrote the senators in a letter to Senate leadership. “Although proponents claim the process can be cleaned-up by simply adding more transparency, history has demonstrated earmarking is inherently corrupt.”

The senators continued in their letter, writing, “The pay-to-play nature of earmarks encourages the worst behavior and no amount of transparency can fix the inherent unfairness in the earmark process, which favors those with the resources to hire a politically-connected lobbyist rather than those with the greatest need or merit.”

Flake and McCaskill’s bipartisan Earmark Elimination Act would create a point of order against any provision contained within a bill that matches the definition of an earmark. An earmark is defined as any congressionally directed spending item, tax benefit, or tariff benefit targeted to a specific recipient or group of beneficiaries. This point of order would only apply to the earmark, not the entire bill. If the point of order is raised, the earmark would be stricken unless a two-thirds vote of the Senate waived the earmark point of order.

Earlier this year, Flake and McCaskill held a press conference announcing their legislation titled, “Pork: Eat it, Don’t Spend it” in which the senators focused on recent hearings in the House of Representatives to explore lifting Congress’ self-imposed, temporary ban on the practice of earmarking.

Full text of letter HERE.